It’s Time to Support Software Industry Priorities

posted by in Intellectual Property March 3, 2015
Mar 03

The global software industry – exemplified by the unparalleled success of American-born innovation – is changing the way we live. Software creates jobs. It sustains vibrant economies. And it enables us to do amazing things by connecting human ingenuity with technology to not only improve how we live our lives every day but also turn remarkable new ideas into reality.

In recent years it’s been a challenge to foster cooperation and deal making in Washington. However, White House and congressional leaders seem eager to change this dynamic and demonstrate they can work together to pass legislation. This week, the General Counsels of BSA | The Software Alliance member companies are coming to Washington to urge action by Congress and the Obama Administration on a bipartisan, achievable, pro-growth agenda focusing on patent reform, government access to private data, and removing trade barriers. These issues don’t require new spending or changes in the tax code. But they are common sense, drive economic growth, and — with the right support – are achievable this year.

The time is now to pass strong patent reform legislation. The unnecessary costs from abuse of the patent litigation system are unacceptably high. Bad actors are bringing suits wherever the money trail leads them, hurting both large and small businesses across industries, like software, retail and manufacturing. Right now, the rules governing patent litigation are so imbalanced that they invite bad actors to abuse the system. Anyone can bring a frivolous patent lawsuit against an innovative company with little, to no, recourse. And they often do.

Patent lawsuits are incredibly expensive, especially for defendants, and these bad actors know this. They bring these frivolous lawsuits knowing that most companies will likely settle rather than fight. Defending what’s right has become too expensive in patent cases, and that’s just plain wrong.

But Congress can fix this. Chairman Bob Goodlatte’s Innovation Act passed the House last Congress 325-91, and this legislation enjoys bipartisan support in the House and Senate today. Enacting legislation like the Innovation Act will lower the cost of patent lawsuits and rebalance those costs so that both the plaintiff and defendant share similar financial risks. This bipartisan legislation will allow businesses across the economy to do what they do best: innovate, produce, hire, research, and add value to our economy.

Efforts to increase protection of individuals’ privacy and increase international trust in the digital economy have also secured broad-based support in Congress.  For example, recently introduced bi-partisan legislation by Sens. Orrin Hatch, Dean Heller and Chris Coons — the Law Enforcement Access to Data Stored Abroad (LEADS) Act — would safeguard users’ electronic data and establish a balanced process for how law enforcement can obtain the information it needs, all while respecting the sovereign rights of other countries.

Backed by companies large and small, this legislation strikes the right balance between protecting privacy and giving law enforcement the tools they need to protect the public. Setting clear rules of the road for how governments access data will both help law enforcement and provide confidence to our customers that their private data is secure.

Trade is an equally pressing issue this year. We have the potential to move forward on landmark agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that for the first time would set global rules to actively encourage the free flow of data around the world. In order to ensure that these agreements are successfully completed with strong cross-border data provisions, Congress must pass updated Trade Promotion Authority legislation and provide our negotiating partners the confidence to give us their best offers.

But Congress isn’t the only place where action on trade is needed. The Administration needs to act now to ensure software created by US companies has full access to foreign markets and is not discriminated against by other governments. Too many countries around the world are erecting barriers to block trade in software and services. Whether it’s attempts in Brazil to dictate that data must be stored in-country or demands by China to turn over encryption technologies and keys and source code as a requirement for doing business in the country, these discriminatory practices are impacting how countries and people access – and reap the benefits of – the global economy.

The Administration must make removing barriers to market access for data services a top priority in their trade negotiations. And Congress must hold the Administration accountable to ensure the international community hears one, strong message.

As the leading voice for the software industry BSA is pleased that policymakers embrace software in both in their everyday lives and the policies they champion. We hope that Washington will focus on these critical issues this year and take action to support software innovation and the benefits it offers around the world.

This Op-Ed originally appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog on Monday March 2, 2015.

Malware Threats from Unlicensed Software: Real or Imagined?

posted by in Compliance and Enforcement, Cybersecurity February 18, 2015
Feb 18

It has long been assumed that there is a connection between unlicensed software and cyber security threats. In fact, BSA’s most recent Global Software Survey found that computer users cite exposure to cybersecurity threats from malware as the chief reason not to use unlicensed software.

Malware_ThreatsTo test whether this relationship is indeed real or imagined, BSA commissioned a new analysis from global research firm IDC comparing rates of unlicensed software installed on PCs with a measure of malware incidents on PCs across 81 countries. The results show there is a strong positive correlation between unlicensed software and malware encounters – the higher the unlicensed software rate in a country, the more malware (more…)

Supreme Court Action on Patents Leaves Room for Reform

posted by in Intellectual Property February 12, 2015
Feb 12

Today, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet held a hearing to examine recent Supreme Court cases in the patent arena. The hearing was carefully watched by opponents and supporters of the Innovation Act (HR 9), a bipartisan patent litigation reform bill introduced last week.

BSA and its member companies strongly support the Innovation Act. The bill is carefully crafted to curb abusive practices in patent litigation and to address asymmetries in the cost of patent litigation that provide incentives to assert weak patents and meritless infringement claims. Today’s hearing made clear that, while the Supreme Court has taken steps to correct imbalances in patent litigation, meaningful change lies beyond the Court’s role in interpreting existing law. (more…)

Pick up the pace on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

posted by in Global Markets February 5, 2015
Feb 05

EU and US negotiators have come to the table in Brussels this week to continue discussions on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

No one ever said negotiating trade agreements was easy. But if these two countries act now, the benefits will be far reaching.

TTIP was envisioned as an ambitious opportunity for the US and EU – two of the world’s most important economies – to simplify and grow trade and business opportunities between their two markets. One study commissioned by the European Commission projects that TTIP could result in an increase of €119 billion in EU GDP and €95 billion in the US, and increase global income by almost €100 billion by 2027. (more…)

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Executive Survey Shows the Benefits of Data Innovation Across the Whole Economy

posted by in Data, Global Markets December 10, 2014
Dec 10

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There are pervasive myths and misconceptions about how data innovation is transforming the global economy, from the idea that it’s all about so-called “Big Data” (in fact, analyzing even small data sets can produce useful insights) to the false notion that all data is personal information (when discoveries are being made from data sources such as wind turbines, jet engines, financial markets, crop harvests, traffic patterns and energy consumption).

Today we released a new survey that sets right another such myth — that big tech companies and Silicon Valley start-ups are the main beneficiaries of data innovation. The reality is that data tools are catalysts for innovation and growth across the whole economy, and the benefits of that innovation and growth accrue to society as a whole. (more…)

Pass Surveillance Reform Now

posted by in Data November 14, 2014
Nov 14

BSA | The Software Alliance and other leading technology groups sent the followng letter on September 8, 2014, to the US Senate calling for a swift vote on the USA Freedom Act. The bipartisan legislation would strengthen privacy protections for the public by reforming the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Click here for the letter in pdf format.

 

September 8, 2014

Dear Majority Leader Reid and Republican Leader McConnell:

The undersigned trade associations and organizations, representing leaders in the technology sector, write to urge your support for the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act, S. 2685, introduced on July 29, 2014 by Senators Leahy, Franken, Lee, and Heller. (more…)

Time to Break the Logjam on ECPA Reform

posted by in Data October 21, 2014
Oct 21

No one can argue convincingly that the email, photos and documents we store electronically are any less important to our personal and professional lives than the ones we keep on paper. Yet they are still held to different standards: Authorities need a warrant to search an old-fashioned file cabinet, but not your hard drive or email account.

That’s because the law that governs access to digital records, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, turns 28 years old this week. It was enacted in 1986 — well before anyone but a small handful of scientists and academics had ever used the Internet — and it is long overdue for reform. Addressing this issue is an important step in building public trust in the innovative technologies at the heart of the digital economy. (more…)

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Privacy Protection Is at Stake in Microsoft’s Battle with the DOJ

posted by in Data July 28, 2014
Jul 28

Technology has fundamentally changed the way we all store our information, and that has put technology companies on the front lines of the fight to ensure private data are protected as well in the digital age as in the past. This fight is now playing out in a lawsuit in New York, where the US government is urging a court to ignore the true nature of digitally stored information so that it can avoid clear limits on search-and-seizure authority. The court should instead reaffirm limits on government power to preserve critical privacy protections.

Up on appeal is a case from the US District Court in the Southern District of New York in which the government served Microsoft Corp. with a search warrant directing it to produce the contents of a customer’s email account. Microsoft determined that it had stored the content on a server in Dublin. Rather than produce the email content, the company produced only data stored in the United States and moved to dismiss the warrant to conduct an exterritorial search at the government’s behest. (more…)

BSA Global Survey Reveals Security Concerns With Unlicensed Software — and Points to the Solution

posted by in Intellectual Property June 24, 2014
Jun 24

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Of all the priorities CIOs and IT managers are juggling these days — from cloud to mobility to data analytics — surveys find that cybersecurity is what keeps them up at night. And there’s good reason for that: Symantec dubbed 2013 the “Year of the Mega Breach” while the Economist Intelligence Unit found that more than 75 percent of organizations suffered a security incident in the past two years causing major system disruption or loss of sensitive data. (more…)

Positive Shift in Europe’s Approach to Cloud Policy

posted by in Cloud Computing May 2, 2014
May 02

Policy discussions about cloud computing in Europe have at times been fraught with protectionist rhetoric. Exacerbated by Edward Snowden’s revelations on government surveillance, there have been calls for data location requirements, procurement preferences for European providers, dedicated French or German cloud networks, and even a “Schengen area for data” as ways to promote deployment of cloud services wholly focused on the European market.

While BSA fully supports efforts to promote cloud computing in the EU, these types of policies would run contrary to the borderless nature of the cloud and hamper, not encourage, cloud uptake. (more…)